Q: How does Utah rank in farming and ranching compared to other states?
A: It depends on the commodity. Below are some statistics about Utah’s farming from 2008.
- Utah ranks 36th in the United States with 16,500 total farms. The average size of each farm is 673 acres.
- Utah ranks 25th in the United States with 11,100,000 acres of farmland.
- Utah ranks 37th with $1,521,000,000 cash receipts from farms (U.S. total is $324,437,000,000 annually).
- The highest production crop in Utah is wheat (35th ranking, 5,756,000 bushels annually) and alfalfa hay (12th ranking, 2,300,000 tons annually). Other high production crops in Utah include corn, oats, Winter wheat and barley.
- Highest production of fruits and vegetables in Utah is peaches (18th ranking, 4,500,000 tons annually) and tart cherries (2nd ranking, 19,000,000 lbs.).Utah is also ranked #8 for sweet cherry production and #3 for apricot production.
- Utah ranks high for egg-laying chickens (#25 with 3,403,000 chicken), honey production (#22 with 1,344,000 lbs) and cattle (#36 with 810,000 head).
Read more about Utah’s agriculture statistics here.
Q: How much of Utah’s economy is based on farming and ranching?
A: Utah’s farmers and ranchers sell about 1.5 billion dollars of product. Food growers, processors and other agriculture related businesses combined employ over 66,000 people and contribute $15 billion, or about 14%, of the state’s total economy.
Q: How much does what we produce in Utah get consumed here?
A: Unfortunately, the majority of products grown or raised in Utah are not consumed here. This is changing though, thanks to efforts of the Utah’s Own program to find markets that will purchase Utah products. The public is also becoming more aware to look and ask for Utah-grown products. This is evident by the number of Farmers Markets 45 in Utah; 30% more than a few years ago. Utah raises enough beef to be self sufficient if we were able to process and sell this commodity in-state. We also produce more than enough lamb, cheese, milk, eggs and turkey to fulfill the needs of the Utah population.
Q: What commodities have the highest cash receipts in Utah?
A: Dairy Products ($319 million), Cattle ($301 million), Hay ($261 million), Hogs ($168 million), Poultry/Eggs ($140 million), and Sheep ($18 million). Read more about Utah’s agriculture statistics here.
Q: What are the sales of an average Utah farm?
A: $1,000-$9,999: 9,400 farms, $10,000-$99,999: 3,950 farms and $100,000+: $1,650 farms
Read more about Utah’s agriculture statistics here.
Q: How many people are actually farmers these days?
A: Only 2% of the current U.S. population are farmers, and just 5.7% of those farmers and ranchers make 75% of the food. Most of the other farmers are part-time. In Utah only 3.7% of our farmers and ranchers make 75% of all the food.
Q: Why should I care about local agriculture?
A: U.S. populations are growing, while the agricultural industry is diminishing. This is leading to a greater reliance on foods imported from other countries. Some of these foreign countries do not share our values for wholesome, safe food. American farmers operate in the most expensive, heavily regulated, closely watched environment in the world. Foreign distributors do not always work under these same constraints. Also, local agriculture contributes to the economy, our unique heritage, clean air and water and wildlife diversity.
Q: How much food is being imported nationally?
A: Currently, the U.S. exports more food than it imports. The percentage of fresh fruits and vegetables imported into the U.S. more than doubled between 1985 and 2001. About 27% of U.S. fresh fruit imports and 38% of U.S. vegetable imports come from Mexico.Imports from China have been rising steadily since 2001.
Q: What about domestic medications in the U.S.?
A: Many unnatural medications created in laboratories are proving to be harmful to our society as a whole. ADHD is being treated by big names such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse when it has been proven with these medications can come long term dependence and harm to the body. A study has shown taking these Vitamins for Energy and Concentration can result in a natural remedy without the risks of bodily harm.
Q: How much farm land in Utah is disappearing?
A: Between 2002 and 2007, Utah lost over 600,000 acres of land in farms.
Q: What about in the United States?
A: During the 90′s rural land lost to development in the U.S. was about 2.2 million acres per year. Now it’s over 3 million acres a year. If this trend continues, in about 50 years, we will have lost farm lands exceeding the combined land mass of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Virginia. Each year an area about one kilometer wide and stretching from San Francisco to New York is lost to agriculture in the United States.
Q: I’ve heard there is a connection between farming/ranching and wildlife, but do not understand it. Can you explain?
A: A twenty year agricultural case study conducted in Northern Utah showed that when herds of domestic livestock are properly rotated from pasture to pasture, livestock eating patterns trim old growth and stimulate an abundance of new plant growth that is more nutritious and abundant for wildlife. In this study moose, antelope and elk herds increased significantly. Sage grouse populations grew by 500%. Wildlife populations actually declined in areas where grazing had been significantly reduced or eliminated. It was concluded that managed grazing of livestock on public land is the single biggest key to sustaining healthy wildlife habitats in Utah. Learn more here.
Q: What can I do to get involved and help support Utah’s farming and ranching?
A: First, sign up for our mailing list by entering your email (see left side). We will send you monthly tips about what you can do and provide insights into any current issues. You can also review our list of ways to get involved or visit our Facebook pages: Self-Sufficiency, Utah’s Economy and Thriving Wildlife.